Relay For Life exceeds all hopes at Lampe Park

When the final lap was rounded at 8 a.m. Sunday morning at Lampe Park at the tail end of the Relay For Life fundraiser, the amount raised for the American Cancer Society was up $30,000 over last year.

The more than 800 participants, including approximately 120 survivors, raised $84,294.85, according to volunteer and one of the chairs, Jennifer Kashuba, who said she was so excited that the number rolled off her tongue easily.

"Our goal was $70,000," she said. "Last year we raised $54,000. We definitely had more new teams this year and we raised a whole lot more money."

At the beginning of this ninth annual event in Gardnerville, the third at Lampe Park, cars lined the parking lot and Waterloo Lane, some double parked at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The grass was crowded with people wearing white and purple T-shirts, Relay For Life colors, and luminaries almost completely lined the perimeter along the sidewalk. Some had messages of cheer on them, others said heart-wrenching words like "Daddy, I miss you."

Thirty-two teams had tents throughout the park, one sponsored by the Topaz Volunteer Fire Department. Deborah Boulet, owner of Reflections Salon in Topaz Ranch Estates, was giving haircuts, including shaving heads, with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

Cancer survivors were identifiable, wearing purple T-shirts. Daisy Morgan, a 60-year-old Johnson Lane woman, has had more than her share of cancer in her family, with four family members besides her, including her husband, who are survivors and two cousins who died.

"I was lucky. They found it when it was small," she said of her breast tumor. "So, I advocate self-examination."

The money raised for the American Cancer Society actually goes toward research, education, advocacy and services for patients and their families and friends.

Erin Simonton, with the American Cancer Society in Reno and the representative for all of Northern Nevada, said this has been a great year for ACS. In addition to the FDA approving a cervical cancer vaccine for young women ages 9-23 this month, she said this is the first year that ACS has seen a decrease in mortality rates from cancer since ACS first began in 1913, as reported in March.

"We got that and we got the vaccine and we're moving forward," said Simonton.

The Lampe Park event was the 13th and final Relay For Life Simonton attended this year.

According to Kashuba, South Lake Tahoe raised $120,000, but Douglas County, with two combined events, the other at Kahle Community Center in Stateline, raised more than $200,000.

"We're such a tight-knit community that it really helps in events like these," said Kashuba.

"This has been an important year, turning a significant corner on cancer awareness, treatment, and prevention and we are proud that Douglas County shares this vision through dedication and generosity," said Warren Kurtz, also a chairman of Relay For Life, along with his wife, Donna Kurtz.

One family's appearance was well-received by the crowd on Saturday. Leonard Campagna stood with other family members including his son Nicholas, 14, who was diagnosed with T-cell lympho-blastic lymphoma in July 2004. Cancer treatments began that month with his last treatment on Aug. 10.

"He was given all clear on Aug. 11. He is cancer free," Nicholas' father said to a standing ovation. "He'll start ninth-grade at CVMS (Carson Valley Middle School) on Monday and he's looking forward to it."

Nicholas' grandmother, Clorinda Campagna, sang the song "You'll never walk alone," from up on stage, following his dad's speech. Others standing with them were his mother Angela Campagna, Angela's father Ken Fila, and Nicholas' sister, Ashley Campagna. The family made up the Relay For Life team "Diggin' A Cure," which joined Relay just after Nicholas was cleared of the disease a couple of weeks ago. In spite of coming into the event late, the team met all Relay For Life's fundraising challenges, according to Simonton.

The next big event for the American Cancer Society is Celebration on the Hill, in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 19-20, said Simonton.

"We send volunteer lobbyists who display banners from all over," said Simonton. "They're trying to tell our legislators we want more money for cancer prevention."

n Jo Rafferty can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 210.


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